Want to Build Your Major Gifts? 5 Steps to Take Right Now!

What does it take to really nail major gifts – those large investments that every nonprofit needs and wants?

Just think about all that funding. It’s just sitting out there. And it can help your important mission beyond belief.

The problem is – those gifts are not going to just walk in the door without some work and dedication.

This is one of the reasons why I created Major Gifts Coaching.

I wanted to help leaders understand how major gifts fundraising really works, and give them the training and support to actually implement a successful major gifts effort.

If you and your team are interested in Major Gifts Coaching for this year, send in a Letter of Interest, and we’ll see if coaching is a good fit for you.

Major Gifts Coaching for 2019 closes out on February 15th, so don’t delay if you are interested. We’ll be starting our work together on Feb 20th.

Let’s look at 5 important things you need to have in place if you want to build major gifts for your organization.

1. You need an organization-wide commitment.

Your entire nonprofit needs to support fundraising and your donors.

If you have everyone’s support and all hands on deck, miracles just might occur!

You’ll need:

  • Everybody will need to be engaged, or at least supportive of this most important and urgent effort.
  • Your CEO will make spending time with major donors and prospects a priority.
  • The program staff will be willing to chat with donors when needed.

To build major gifts, your most of board members need to also embrace the initiative. They can help by opening doors, hosting tours, making introductions, and engaging with donors.

2. To build major gifts, you need enough resources to do the job.

As I said earlier, those huge major gifts just don’t walk in the door.

It takes a serious investment of time to develop stellar relationships – to engage with donors, get to know them, see what they are interested in, follow-up, create a proposal they will like, follow-up again, and close an investment-level gift.

Then you start the cycle again.

You need:

  • Enough people and staff resources to do the work. Plus an adequate budget for travel, lunches, dinners, even events honoring donors.
  • The CFO supports investments in major gift fundraising.
  • Front line fundraisers are freed up from too many admin meetings so they can get out of the office.

Time with donors becomes a priority for everyone in the organization.

3. You need the right mindset.

Like everything else in life, all success starts in your mind.

You’ve got to get your head straight. The people involved with major donors need to share a positive, forward-thinking, can-do mentality.

You need:

  • An abundance mindset. You see the glass as half full. You see plenty of money out there for your organization.
  • A bias toward action rather than too much deliberation.
  • Fearlessness, when it comes to approaching potential supporters. You don’t chicken out!

People in your organization will believe that the pie keeps getting bigger for everyone. They won’t descend into competitive or negative thinking. Naysayers are banished.

4. You need special interpersonal social skills.

There’s an entire realm of “soft” interpersonal skills you need to develop.  For example, if you have a tendency to talk too much, you’ll have some challenges developing relationships with donors!

Here are some of the softer skills you’ll want to develop – so you can build major gifts for your nonprofit:

  • Patience, and more patience.
  • The ability to keep confidential information close to the vest.
  • The ability to make a donor comfortable with you and draw her out.
  • Friendliness. Likeability.
  • Listening skills. After all, a major gift is really about your donor’s vision. You need to bring it out!
  • Lovely manners and graciousness.

You’ll learn to put the donors’ needs first.

And you’ll want to become more comfortable with the idea of big money, so you can be at ease with wealthy people.

5. More than anything, you need systems and a structure.

Without systems, nothing is really possible. There’s no way to track your activity.

Without structure, major gift fundraising seems “fuzzy.” To vague and uncertain.

Without systems, you just may be floundering.

Here are the two systems that every single major gift program much have in place to be successful:

1. A Major Donor Prospect List.

Not just any list. You’ll want to thoughtfully put together a list of your most likely donor prospects. Then you’ll rate each person by their financial capacity and interest level.

With a prospect list, you can plan your moves, strategies, contacts and know where to place your focus.

Your prospect list is a living document.

It should change from month to month. Make it work for you!

2. A Monthly Major Gifts Strategy Meeting.

Here’s your essential management tool.  Pull together a small team of trusted people to review the prospect list.

Discuss together your progress with your donors. What new information has come forward?

What might your favorite donors want from you this month?

How can you make them happy and forge even closer relationships?

Who is ready to be asked?

Your monthly strategy session helps move everything forward, keeps people accountable, and helps you evaluate where you are with each of your major prospects.

BOTTOM LINE: Build Major Gifts for YOUR Nonprofit!

Every organization can be successful at major gift fundraising.

Would you and your team like training, structure and accountability to help build your major gifts program this year?

Then consider joining our major gift coaching program that launches Feb 20. Click here to find out more!